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Resource Management Reforms Must Support Outcomes

“To achieve the outcomes the Government wants, it will have to define them, publish them and incorporate them in a new combined strategic and land use planning Act,” says Hamish Glenn, Policy Director at Infrastructure New Zealand.

Infrastructure New Zealand has released a new white paper today at the Building Nations Symposium in Auckland. The report outlines how the New Zealand Government can shift from a largely budget-focused and inputs-based system to an aspirational goal-setting system which promotes outcomes and wellbeing.

“It’s one thing to say we want healthy, affordable homes, or to have a productive, net-zero carbon economy, but without a strategy for achieving these goals, we will never get there.

“We have looked at a number of leading jurisdictions overseas. Three Governments pursue an approach targeting outcomes and wellbeing similar to the aspirations of New Zealand: Scotland, Ireland and Hong Kong.

“They each apply the same basic formula and this provides important insights into how New Zealand can not only aspire to, but actually achieve, the outcomes everyone wants.

“First, the Governments clearly identify and define the national strategic outcomes they want prioritised.

“Second, they develop an integrated spatial and investment framework which translates the outcomes into a real-world representation of what is required to achieve the vision.

“Third, they ensure the investment required to encourage and incentivise development in alignment with national direction is funded.

“For New Zealand to achieve outcomes, we need to do the same.

“We need the priority outcomes the Government wants to achieve clearly defined and articulated. We need infrastructure to be integrated with spatial and land use planning to understand future needs, and we need commitment to implementation.

“A barrier we face, however, is that neither the Resource Management Act in its current form, nor the recent recommendations of the review panel support this type of approach.

“Misalignment of vision, strategic and land use planning and of planning with investment will impede the Government’s outcomes aspirations.

“New Zealand will remain dependent on regulation to stop what we don’t want. What we need is a system where we incentivise and enable what we do want.

“To shift New Zealand to a system of government which not only aspires to but achieves outcomes and wellbeing, the Government should:

  • Urgently develop a set of National Strategic Outcomes which collectively represent the Government’s vision for wellbeing.
  • Direct the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission / Te Waihanga to develop its infrastructure strategy with a view to enabling the National Strategic Outcomes.
  • Complete reform of resource management statute, bringing together strategic and land use planning and developing dedicated environmental protection statute.

“With the right approach New Zealand can leverage COVID investment to build back better and provide all of government, business and individuals with the leadership needed to achieve shared objectives,” says Glenn.

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